Despite being chained between two Roman soldiers and facing the possibility of execution the next day, Peter was asleep. (He probably was the only Christian who slept that night.) In fact, it seems that Peter was in such a deep slumber that it took a whack from an angel to wake him up: "Suddenly, there was a bright light in the cell, and an angel of the Lord stood before Peter. The angel struck him on the side to awaken him and said, 'Quick! Get up!' And the chains fell off his wrists" (verse 7).
No doubt there have been times when we may have hindered the work of God in our lives because of unbelief. Scripture tells us that Jesus could do no mighty work in His hometown because of unbelief (see Matthew 13:58).
Part of the problem with our prayers is that we give up too soon. We simply assume that it must not be God's will: "I prayed four times for an awakening to come to America, and it didn't happen, so it must not be God's will."
What is the future of the United States of America? Are we doomed to just go the way that so many other once-great nations have gone? Is America headed to the ash heap of history? Are our greatest days behind us, or could they still yet be ahead? Is there any hope for America?
I want to tell you a story about a sleepless church that was involved in desperate and deep prayer. They were coming under intense persecution, and they were facing what appeared to be a hopeless situation.
What does the word "revival" mean? We can gain a better understanding of this word by looking at its close relative, "revive." To revive something means to bring it back to life again. We could just as easily use the word "restoration" in its place. To restore something is to return it to its original state.
We like the idea of change, of starting over again, of becoming someone different than we are. Sometimes we move to a new place, thinking we can escape our problems. Sometimes we think if we had some new friends or get married that life will be better. Then we think if only we had kids things would be different.
Whenever we took the freeway through Anaheim when I was a kid, I would gaze out the car window at a familiar image in the distance: the Matterhorn at Disneyland. To me it represented the Promised Land. I remember making a vow to myself that when I became an adult, I would go to Disneyland every day.
I believe there are people inside the church today who will be outside the gates of heaven. Being in a church does not mean you are getting into heaven. We, as individuals, must put our faith in Jesus Christ because one day we will stand before God all by ourselves.
Perhaps you have heard of George Bernard Shaw. We was a highly regarded thinker and writer and, among other things, won a Nobel Prize in literature. He also was an avowed and vocal atheist. Shaw firmly believed in science and what mankind could accomplish. But toward the end of his life, he realized this was a misplaced hope.
Under the old covenant, God would meet His people in the tabernacle, which is another word for tent. They set up the tabernacle, and the High Priest would go into the Holy of Holies where the Ark of the Covenant was kept. This ark contained the commandments of Moses, the rod of Aaron that budded, and some manna. The priests would go into the Holy of Holies once a year on the Day of Atonement and represent the people. Later the tabernacle was replaced by the temple.
When David faced Goliath, he knew the battle belonged to the Lord. He told the giant Philistine, "The battle is the LORD's, and He will give you into our hands" (1 Samuel 17:47).
I saw an advertisement in a computer magazine with a photo of a guy shaving. It asked the question "Is it an alarm or a calling that gets you out of bed in the morning?" That is a very good question. What do you live for? What makes you tick? What do you get up for in the morning?
Often whenever the subject of judgment and hell comes up, so does this question: If God is all-loving, then why would He send people to hell?
Are you having troubles in your marriage? Consider this passage about how a husband should love his wife. "Love is kind" (1 Corinthians 13:4). I believe husbands hold the key to a flourishing marriage. If they would be proactive instead of merely reactive, leading spiritually, it would change everything, especially in a struggling marriage. Yes, the love a husband is to have for his wife is kind. This love shows itself practically: showing her tenderness, bringing her gifts, actually telling her you love her.
Jesus defied the world's expectations regarding a divine being. Many Jewish people of that day were looking for a powerful king to liberate them from the Romans—they were prepared to serve and worship that kind of messiah. Instead, the Savior was a humble man who didn't think twice about washing dirty feet. While Jesus Christ could have banished the Roman presence from the region and then been glorified as an earthly ruler, He was very clear about His reason for being here: He came to serve, not to be served (Matt. 20:28).
What happens to believers when they die? They go straight into the presence of God. The Bible says that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (see 2 Corinthians 5:8). Paul understood this when he said he had "a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better" (Philippians 1:23).
Allie, my youngest granddaughter, has a little rabbit called Fuzzie (named by her older sister, Rylie). Fuzzie lives in a fairly large cage. I know it seems unfair to put a rabbit in a cage, but it is a pretty nice cage as cages go. I actually think Fuzzie likes his cage.
As believers we have the sacred trust of the gospel message. Jesus has given us our command to "go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15). Everyone is called to do that. Everyone should get the gospel out.
Have you ever bought a used car? One thing you have to beware of is a car that has been in collisions and has a lot of "Bondo" on it. Bondo is a resin product that is used in the place of proper body work or to cover up some kind of problem with the body of the car. Sometimes I wonder if we have some "Bondo believers" out there. By that, I mean people who appear to be one thing but really are another.
Our money is a direct reflection of the priorities of our lives. We like to disconnect the two, but really they are very connected. Jesus said, "Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be" (Luke 12:34). We will invest in our passions. If you want to find out what a person's interests are, then take a tour of their checkbook or expense account and see where they are spending their money.
There are people who say that God is very harsh, that He is very hard to follow. But the problem is they have a faulty view of God.
From the beginning of time, mankind has searched for peace. He has joined peace movements. He has marched for peace. He has awarded prizes for peace. He has even gone to war for peace. And when you hear of someone being arrested for disturbing the peace, you wonder where they found any to disturb.
What does it mean when we say that God is sovereign? It means that God is ultimately in control. Nothing happens without His permission.
The Christian life is the greatest life there is. God takes a life that was empty and aimless and, worst of all, headed to a certain judgment, and he turns it around and transforms it. That is more than enough right there. But in addition, he removes the guilt that haunted us, fills the emptiness inside of us and literally takes residence in our heart. This all comes as a result of the gospel believed and followed.